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How To: Time Managed Code Using QueryPerformanceCounter and QueryPerformanceFrequency

 

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Improving .NET Application Performance and Scalability

J.D. Meier, Srinath Vasireddy, Ashish Babbar, and Alex Mackman
Microsoft Corporation

May 2004

Related Links

Home Page for Improving .NET Application Performance and Scalability

Chapter 10, Improving Web Services Performance

Chapter 15, Measuring .NET Application Performance

Checklist: Web Services Performance

Send feedback to Scale@microsoft.com

patterns & practices Library

Summary: This How To shows you how to create a managed wrapper class to encapsulate the Microsoft® Win32® functions QueryPerformanceCounter and QueryPerformanceFrequency. You can use this class to time the execution of managed code. This How To also provides examples that show you how to use the class to measure the overhead associated with boxing and string concatenation.

Contents

Creating a QueryPerfCounter Wrapper Class
Using the Wrapper Class
Validating Your QueryPerfCounter Class
Example A: Boxing Overhead
Example B: String Concatenation
Additional Resources

Applies To

  • Microsoft .NET Framework version 1.1

Overview

You can use the Win32 functions QueryPerformanceCounter and QueryPerformanceFrequency to measure the performance of your code to nanosecond accuracy. For comparison, a nanosecond (ns or nsec) is one billionth (10-9) of a second. A millisecond (ms or msec) is one thousandth of a second.

Note   At the time of this writing, the .NET Framework 2.0 (code-named "Whidbey") provides a wrapper to simplify using QueryPerformanceCounter and QueryPerformanceFrequency.

Creating a QueryPerfCounter Wrapper Class

In this step, you will create a wrapper class to encapsulate the Win32 function calls used to obtain performance information.

To create the wrapper class

  1. Use Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET or any text editor to create a new C# file named QueryPerfCounter.cs. Add an empty class named QueryPerfCounter as shown.
    public class QueryPerfCounter
    {
    }
    
  2. Add a using statement to reference System.Runtime.InteropServices so that you can make calls to native Win32 functions.
    using System.Runtime.InteropServices;
    
  3. Create the declarations to call the QueryPerformanceCounter and QueryPerformanceFrequency Win32 APIs as shown.
    [DllImport("KERNEL32")]
    private static extern bool QueryPerformanceCounter(out long lpPerformanceCount);
    
    [DllImport("Kernel32.dll")]
    private static extern bool QueryPerformanceFrequency(out long lpFrequency);
    
  4. Add a constructor. In the constructor, call QueryPerformanceFrequency, passing a global variable to hold a value that will be used to calculate a duration in nanoseconds.
    private long frequency;
    
    public QueryPerfCounter()
    {
      if (QueryPerformanceFrequency(out frequency) == false)
      {
        // Frequency not supported
        throw new Win32Exception();
      }
    }
    
  5. Create a Start method that gets the current value from QueryPerformanceCounter. Use a global variable to store the retrieved value.
    public void Start()
    {
      QueryPerformanceCounter(out start);
    }
    
  6. Create a Stop method that gets the current value from QueryPerformanceCounter. Use another global variable to store the retrieved value.
    public void Stop()
    {
      QueryPerformanceCounter(out stop);
    }
    
  7. Create a Duration method that accepts the number of iterations as an argument and returns a duration value. Use this method to calculate the number of ticks between the start and stop values. Next, multiply the result by the frequency multiplier to calculate the duration of all the operations, and then divide by the number of iterations to arrive at the duration per operation value.
    public double Duration(int iterations)
    {
      return ((((double)(stop - start)* 
                (double) multiplier) / 
                (double) frequency)/iterations);
    }
    

Your code in QueryPerfCounter.cs should resemble the following.

QueryPerfCounter.cs

// QueryPerfCounter.cs
using System;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;



public class QueryPerfCounter
{
  [DllImport("KERNEL32")]
  private static extern bool QueryPerformanceCounter(
    out long lpPerformanceCount);

  [DllImport("Kernel32.dll")]
  private static extern bool QueryPerformanceFrequency(out long lpFrequency);

  private long start;
  private long stop;
  private long frequency;
  Decimal multiplier = new Decimal(1.0e9);

  public QueryPerfCounter()
  {
    if (QueryPerformanceFrequency(out frequency) == false)
    {
      // Frequency not supported
      throw new Win32Exception();
    }
  }

  public void Start()
  {
    QueryPerformanceCounter(out start);
  }

  public void Stop()
  {
    QueryPerformanceCounter(out stop);
  }

  public double Duration(int iterations)
  {
    return ((((double)(stop - start)* (double) multiplier) / (double) frequency)/iterations);
  }
}

To compile the code, use the following command line.

csc.exe /out:QueryPerfCounter.dll /t:library /r:System.dll QueryPerfCounter.cs

Using the Wrapper Class

To use the QueryPerfCounter wrapper class in your code, you need to reference QueryPerfCounter.dll and then instantiate the QueryPerfCounter class. Your client code should resemble the following.

QueryPerfCounter myTimer = new QueryPerfCounter();
// Measure without boxing
myTimer.Start();
for(int i = 0; i < iterations; i++)
{
  // do some work to time
}
myTimer.Stop();
// Calculate time per iteration in nanoseconds
double result = myTimer.Duration(iterations);

The following sections show examples of how to use the wrapper to time the execution of managed code.

Validating Your QueryPerfCounter Class

In the following example, you will validate your QueryPerfCounter class by creating a simple console application. The application puts a thread to sleep for a specified time so that you can compare the results against your own timing results.

The following example code puts a thread to sleep for one second and loops five times. As a result, each iteration should take one second, and the total duration should be five seconds.

ValidateQueryPerfCounter.cs

// ValidateQueryPerfCounter.cs
using System;

public class ValidateQueryPerfCounter
{
  public static void Main()
  {
    RunTest();
  }
  
  public static void RunTest()
  {
    int iterations=5;

    // Call the object and methods to JIT before the test run
    QueryPerfCounter myTimer = new QueryPerfCounter();
    myTimer.Start();
    myTimer.Stop();

    // Time the overall test duration
    DateTime dtStartTime = DateTime.Now;

    // Use QueryPerfCounters to get the average time per iteration
    myTimer.Start();

    for(int i = 0; i < iterations; i++)
    {
      // Method to time
      System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(1000);
    }
    myTimer.Stop();

    // Calculate time per iteration in nanoseconds
    double result = myTimer.Duration(iterations);

    // Show the average time per iteration results
    Console.WriteLine("Iterations: {0}", iterations);
    Console.WriteLine("Average time per iteration: ");
    Console.WriteLine(result/1000000000 + " seconds");
    Console.WriteLine(result/1000000 + " milliseconds");
    Console.WriteLine(result + " nanoseconds");

    // Show the overall test duration results
    DateTime dtEndTime = DateTime.Now;
    Double duration = ((TimeSpan)(dtEndTime-dtStartTime)).TotalMilliseconds;
    Console.WriteLine();
    Console.WriteLine("Duration of test run: ");
    Console.WriteLine(duration/1000 + " seconds");
    Console.WriteLine(duration + " milliseconds");
    Console.ReadLine();
  }
}

To compile the code above, use the following command line.

csc.exe /out:ValidateQueryPerfCounter.exe /r:System.dll,QueryPerfCounter.dll /t:exe ValidateQueryPerfCounter.cs

Note the reference to the QueryPerfCounter.dll assembly that you built earlier.

Results

When you run ValidateQueryPerfCounter.exe, the output will resemble the following.

Iterations: 5
Average time per iteration:
0.999648279320416 seconds
999.648279320416 milliseconds
999648279.320416 nanoseconds

Duration of test run:
5.137792 seconds
5137.792 milliseconds

Example A: Boxing Overhead

In the following console application example, you will use your wrapper class, QueryPerfCounter, from your QueryPerfCounter.dll to measure the performance cost of boxing an integer.

BoxingTest.cs

// BoxingTest.cs
using System;

public class BoxingTest
{
  public static void Main()
  {
    RunTest();
  }

  public static void RunTest()
  {
    int iterations=10000;

    // Call the object and methods to JIT before the test run
    QueryPerfCounter myTimer = new QueryPerfCounter();
    myTimer.Start();
    myTimer.Stop();

    // variables used for boxing/unboxing
    object obj = null;
    int value1 = 12;
    int value2 = 0;

    // Measure without boxing
    myTimer.Start();

    for(int i = 0; i < iterations; i++)
    {
      // a simple value copy of an integer to another integer
      value2 = value1;
    }
    myTimer.Stop();
  
    // Calculate time per iteration in nanoseconds
    double result = myTimer.Duration(iterations);
    Console.WriteLine("int to int (no boxing): " + result + " nanoseconds");

    // Measure boxing
    myTimer.Start();

    for(int i = 0; i < iterations; i++)
    {
      // point the object to a copy of the integer
      obj = value1;
    }
    myTimer.Stop();
  
    // Calculate time per iteration in nanoseconds
    result = myTimer.Duration(iterations);
    Console.WriteLine("int to object (boxing): " + result + " nanoseconds");

    // Measure unboxing
    myTimer.Start();

    for(int i = 0; i < iterations; i++)
    {
      // copy the integer value from the object to a second integer
      value2 = (int)obj;
    }
    myTimer.Stop();
  
    // Calculate time per iteration in nanoseconds
    result = myTimer.Duration(iterations);
    Console.WriteLine("object to int (unboxing): " + result + " nanoseconds");
    Console.ReadLine();
  }
}

Compiling the Sample

To compile the code, use the following command line.

csc.exe /out:BoxingTest.exe /r:System.dll,QueryPerfCounter.dll /t:exe BoxingTest.cs

Results

Run BoxingTest.exe. The results show you the overhead when boxing occurs.

int to int (no boxing): 1.22920650529606 nanoseconds
int to object (boxing): 77.132708207328 nanoseconds
object to int (unboxing): 2.87746068285215 nanoseconds 

In the scenario above, an additional object is created when the boxing occurs.

Example B: String Concatenation

In this example, you will use the QueryPerfCounter class to measure the performance impact of concatenating strings. This example allows you to increase iterations so that you can observe the impact as the number of iterations grows.

StringConcatTest.cs

// StringConcatTest.cs
using System;
using System.Text;

public class StringConcatTest
{
  public static void Main()
  {
    RunTest(10);
    RunTest(100);
  }

  public static void RunTest(int iterations)
  {
    // Call the object and methods to JIT before the test run
    QueryPerfCounter myTimer = new QueryPerfCounter();
    myTimer.Start();
    myTimer.Stop();

    
    Console.WriteLine("");
    Console.WriteLine("Iterations = " + iterations.ToString());
    Console.WriteLine("(Time shown is in nanoseconds)");

    // Measure StringBuilder performance
    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder("");
    myTimer.Start();
    for (int i=0; i<iterations; i++)
    {
      sb.Append(i.ToString());
    }

    myTimer.Stop();
  
    // Pass in 1 for iterations to calculate overall duration
    double result = myTimer.Duration(1);
    Console.WriteLine(result + " StringBuilder version");

    // Measure string concatenation
    string s = string.Empty;
    myTimer.Start();
    for (int i=0; i<iterations; i++)
    {
      s += i.ToString();
    }

    myTimer.Stop();
  
    // Pass in 1 for iterations to calculate overall duration
    result = myTimer.Duration(1);
    Console.WriteLine(result + " string concatenation version");
    Console.ReadLine();
  }
}

Compiling the Sample

To compile the code, use the following command line.

csc.exe /out:StringConcat.exe /r:System.dll,QueryPerfCounter.dll /t:exe StringConcat.cs

Results

With a small number of concatenations, the benefits of using StringBuilder are less obvious. However, with a hundred concatenations, the difference is more apparent. For example:

10 Iterations

Iterations = 10
12292.0650529606 StringBuilder version
20393.6533833211 string concatenation version

100 Iterations

Iterations = 100
62019.0554944832 StringBuilder version
112304.776165686 string concatenation version

Additional Resources

patterns & practices Developer Center

Retired Content

This content is outdated and is no longer being maintained. It is provided as a courtesy for individuals who are still using these technologies. This page may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

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